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Lauren Vlam
Rebecca Miner
English 1010
August 2, 2014

Video Games and their Effects on Modern Society
In light of the new digital age, the ultimate gaming experience finds itself in the midst of
continued controversial debate. Video games becoming a preferred leisure activity has raised
concern among parents, educators, and medical professionals. To date, experts have developed a
number of theories focused around how the evolution of technology has changed the way we
behave, socialize, and find entertainment. With their almost lifelike representations, perplexing
storylines, and broad social settings, the video game world has created a new venue for people to
interact and compete. This leaves many to question whether games serve a purpose beyond our
entertainment or if such virtual reality poses as a threat to our wellbeing. Our reliance on
technology and the engagement, inspiration, and fortification found in these recreations makes
for an intriguing topic of investigation for psychologists and developers alike.
On grounds that they are more receptive than grown-ups, a widely held perspective is that
not only can games make a child socially isolated, but that the violence they contain rewards
aggressive behavior and vengeance among such young personalities. Data collected by Steven J.
Kirsh, a Professor of Psychology at The State University of New York, suggests that playing
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violent video games leads children to define challenging situations as antagonistic. Focused
around his discoveries, children playing a violent video game responded more negatively than
those playing non-violent games. His article closes by expressing, To some extent, children
exposed to the violent video game come to perceive the world through Mortal Kombat-colored
glasses. Kirsh is not alone in his speculation. Over the recent decades, there have been various
studies investigating what are believed to be the definitive consequences of playing video games.
Among those studies, a common theme remains; the content of video games, particularly those
with violent themes, is becoming hazardous among our youth.
While it is difficult to escape the studies that concentrate on the impact video games have
on adolescents, analyzing excessive play and addiction among adults has yet to be completely
dismissed from the scientific community. A typical concern is that adults with video game
addiction have a tendency to show neglect toward their personal relationships, are prone to
conflict, and show indications of withdrawal as a result. Northrup and Shumway build on this
claim by reviewing the experiences of women married to online video game addicts, the
consequences of their behavior, and how it grew to become problematic for those involved.
They even went as far as comparing the addiction to alcoholism, suggesting that severe cases
may require therapy since many of the individuals in their study seemed to display some of the
core components associated to dependence. Moreover, there have been a number of studies
linking some technology to obesity, depression, absence of social aptitudes, and poor sleep
A negating viewpoint is that not only do video games have no impact on hostile or
dangerous behavior, but that there are irrefutable benefits to psychological and physical health.
A study published by Adachi and Willoughby in the Journal of Adolescent Research points out
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that video game play fulfills the same criteria for positive youth development as other more
traditional activities: (1) intrinsic motivation, (2) concentration and cognitive effort, and (3)
cumulative effort over time to achieve a goal. They proceed by clarifying that we may have a
social inclination, stating that very few studies have taken the time to identify positive outcomes
empowered by playing video games. Adolescents are clearly intrinsically motivated to play
video games, and when asked, they are inspired by the exciting and challenging content of
games. This new period of video games displays a clear extension of benefits, such as escaping
anxieties, increasing morale, and reducing stress.
Those that share this perspective think video games are an ideal tool for brain training.
As per a study published by the American Medical Association, a number of specialists think
video games can actually influence the development of perceptual and motor skills found useful
in surgery. They adopted the use of medical technology to survey performance and gauge
neurological activity during their study; an aggregate of 33 surgeons were locked into the study,
investing their time playing games with focus on two-handed choreography, non-dominant hand
dexterity, and depth perception skills. They crack the tip of the iceberg by commenting,
Surgeons who had played video games in the past for more than 3 h/wk made 37% fewer errors,
were 27% faster, and scored 42% better overall than surgeons who never played video games.
This group of doctors seemed to admire how the US Army has recognized the benefits of video
games for teaching skills, and they hope medicine can tap into the training and technology
conditioning capability of video games. (Rosser Jr, MD, et al).
Despite the undivided media coverage on the subject and the various political angles,
others contend that there has been very little scientific evidence to quantify just how much video
games influence our conduct altogether. Like all technologies, C. J. Ferguson argues, video
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games have the ability to impact players in both positive and negative ways. He believes that
because the connection between aggressive behavior and video games is still unsubstantiated,
researchers should change course and focus on identifying the ways in which gaming can be
valuable. For example, he says, one game with violent content called Re-Mission, has been
demonstrated to lead to greater treatment of adherence, quality of life, cancer knowledge, and
self-efficacy in youths with cancer (Ferguson). Kurt Squire, in his article Video Games in
Education (2003), takes an analogous approach by putting the spotlight on the fact that the
cognitive potential of games has been, to a great extent, disregarded by educators. He explains
that instructional technologists can gain from studying recent improvements in the gaming
industry; they need to put effort into illuminating video games in learning environments. Online
games offer the scientific community a chance to see how those interactions are intended to
promote our development. In fact, the greatest benefit of studying games may not be as much
in generating theoretical understandings of human experience in technology or guidelines for
instructional design, but rather, in inspiring us to create new designs (Squire). Out of the many
studies conducted about the impact of video games, less biased experts agree that research tends
to lean toward the fact that we need to invest more time into exploring the subject. By and large,
facts are said to have been fabricated or they were established under poorly controlled
In summary, video games have many characteristics that appeal to gamers. With such a
high rate of individuals who play, researchers strive to capture just how this form of
entertainment is affecting our society. If we can unravel that mystery, we might be able to find
new ways of incorporating games into new and more exciting settings. In the meantime, video
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game sales increase, technology embeds itself even further into our everyday lives, and
researchers continue to bicker about ethics.

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Works Cited
Adachi, Paul J. C, and Teena Willoughby. "Do Video Games Promote Positive Youth
Development?" Journal of Adolescent Research 28: 155-165. Sage Publications. Web. 2
August 2014.
Ferguson, Christopher J. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Meta-analytic Review of Positive
and Negative Effects of Violent Video Games." Psychiatric Quarterly 78: 309-316.
Springer US. Web. 2 August 2014.
Kirsh, Steven J. "Seeing the world through Mortal Kombat-colored glasses: Violent video games
and the development of a short-term hostile attribution bias." Childhood: A Global
Journal of Child Research 5: 177-184. Sage Publications, 7 Feb 2008. Web. 2 August
Mhurchu, Cliona Ni, Ralph Maddison, Yannan Jiang, Andrew Jull, Harry Prapavessis, and
Anthony Rodgers. "Couch potatoes to jumping beans: A pilot study of the effect of active
video games on physical activity in children." International Journal of Behavioral
Nutrition and Physical Activity 5: 1-5, 7 Feb 2008. Web. 2 August 2014.
Northrup, Jason C, and Sterling Shumway. "Gamer Widow: A Phenomenological Study of
Spouses of Online Video Game Addicts." The American Journal of Family Therapy 42:
269-281. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Web. 2 August 2014.
Rosser Jr, MD, et al. "The Impact of Video Games on Training Surgeons in the 21st Century."
Arch Surg. 142: 181-186. American Medical Association, 1 Feb 2007. Web. 2 August
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Squire, Kurt. "Video Games in Education." Int. J. Intell. Games & Simulation 2: 49-62, 1 Feb
2003. Web. 2 August 2014.